Camping as it used to be

Cakewalk Chronicles by Esther Darlington MacDonald

This is the season for camping.

This is the season when families get into their vehicles, burdened with camping gear and food, and stuff that isn’t food, but fun to munch on around the campfire. And they make off for parts not unknown, but suitably far enough away from the family domicile, town, or  city, to try to forget what they left behind. Even for a few days or a couple of weeks.

But is that a vain hope? For many, that camping holiday turns out to be not quite what they imagined, to put it mildly.

Of course, your mind is geared to enjoy itself. If the campground is a fairly quiet place, with the traffic a mere murmur on the nearby highway. If, once parked, you can sit in a folding chair with a good book – say, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen – the shade of a few poplars nearby dappled with warm sunlight, and the lake beckoning the kids, and the wife busy with getting the groceries from boxes to prepare luncheon, cleaning off the picnic table with an old shirt you hated to discard but she insisted she could see through it, – if all is in hand, in other words, what is better in this world, at least for the moment?

Indeed, – but just as you are emerging into Chapter Two, and enjoying the ambience, there comes a call from the lakeshore, some 200 feet below, that one of the kids is about to jump off the limestone cliff in a sort of bungee jump without the bungee, – and you have to rush down and watch with a horror that is muted, at least for the moment, as your oldest 12 year old is embarked on an adventure that can only be described as a bit harrowing. He makes it, of course. Twelve year old boys can do anything. Fearlessly. And first born does swim quite ably toward the shore. If it is Crown Lake in Marble Canyon, which is not exactly a wide lake, or a long lake, like Pavilion Lake, just down the road, but wide enough to have you riveted-eyed on that head and those arms churning the water. And you watch, book in hand, as first born emerges, wades toward you with a silly grin on his face, and what can a good parent say?  “Well done, son”? No, a good parent says, “Don’t try that stunt again.”

Then there’s the episode of the snake.  Number two son has decided to climb the cliffs across the road from the campsite. He climbs a good 200 feet up, and, just as he reached for the ledge above his head and heaves himself up,  there is a hole in the cliff, inches from his left hand. The hole moves. It is a snake. Curled up. A living cable that is not supposed to move. Number two son looks down. It is kind of a long way down. But he’s in shock, kind of.  Not terribly, mind you – he is, after all, approaching 11 years old, only a year and a few months away from 12. And, somehow, with dexterity born from a low grade fear, he descends, reaches the shale below and returns to the campsite, bragging that he has seen a snake in a hole, just inches away from his hand. “Was it a rattler?” Probably he answers. Dad says, “Don’t try that stunt again.”

Camping in a tent of course is fraught with possible problems. Rain, for instance. A veritable downpour that lasts for a couple of hours. There is a flash of lightning. The tots begin to cry. The family dog begins to bark. Or it cowers, shivering under the pickup. And the tent caves in under the weight of the rainwater. And the boys are wet, complaining.

And wanting hot chocolate and hot dogs. And then there are always the mosquitoes. Big ones, that seem bigger than usual. When you are camping, everything out of doors is literally, larger than life. Spraying with insect repellent is the solution. But in the middle of the night?

Still, the fun of camping is swimming in the lake. Thrashing about like seals, splashing like diving ducks on a river, as an eagle swoops down out of a dead tree, beaks up a trout, and flies overhead. All done in a wink. And you marvel at the joy of the freedom. Freedom to enjoy the marvels of nature, Nature, tooth and claw. It’s so much better, this live show of speed and power. So much more exciting than watching it on TV.

As for mother, opening up the third can of beans with a can opener, of course, and buttering two loaves of bread, while dad cooks the weenies on the camp stove, – well, for mother, camping is, at best, a mixed blessing. In between cooking food that cooks fast, food that is not, necessarily nutritious, but filling, you can forget about making salads, about vitamins and calories. And using paper plates eliminates that other chore. Then, stomachs filled, mother can open a camp chair down at the lake, and get a suntan, relaxing, letting the sunlight play across her eyelids, or wearing sun shades bought at the pharmacy the day before, and  she can forget, at least for a little while, what to make for supper.

In the evening, the family can walk around the lake, crossing the little wooden bridge, with a few small troutlings swimming around under it. The boys can make a raft with driftwood, using the little camp hammer and nails that every prudent camper brings along. And when the sun goes completely behind the limestone mountains, and the air cools and dusk falls over the campground, and the stars begin to emerge from the heavens, well, then, the whole family can enjoy what it means to be outdoors.

Yes, camping can be fun. It can be quite different from the every day things you do at home. Maybe, that’s why people like to go camping. Cooking on a woodstove, say, or cooking over a camp fire. Washing in a tin basin, or in the lake. Drinking water from a pump, instead of from the tap in the sink. Let’s face it, camping is hardly ever boring.


Without the distractions we live with almost 12 months of the year, distractions like TV or Ipods or cell phones, or whatever. Without battling the traffic over the Pattulo Bridge. Without shopping in the mall and waiting for 20 minutes to have your groceries cashed out. Without all the myriad frustrations of every day city or town life. Heck, compared to those, the little happenings you experience while camping is a piece of cake!



Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interior Health COVID-19 cases falling slower than the rest of B.C.

More than a third of provincial cases announced Thursday came from the Interior

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Second dose vaccinations accelerating throughout region: Interior Health

To date, more than 675,000 doses have been administered throughout the region

Okanagan Lake (File photo)
Thompson-Okanagan ready to welcome back tourists

The Thompson-Okanagan Tourism Association expects this summer to be a busy one

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read